2008 Inductee - Nellie Zavala


2008 Inductee - Nellie Zavala


The oldest of 10 children, Nellie was born to Carmen and Guillermo Gonzalez, migrant farm workers, in Hanford, California. Her family moved to St. Helena in 1948 where she was on the California Scholarship Federation Honor Roll. She graduated from St. Helena High School in 1950. In 1950, she met and married Ynes Carranza Zavala, and settled in Lathrop, California to raise four boys, Edward, Randolph, Mark, and Ynes Jr.

In 1984, Nellie attended Delta College, received an A.A. Degree with honors, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from UOP in 1993, graduating Magna Cum Laude! After a battle with his health, Ynes, who had been Nellie’s supporter, died on March 30, 1998. Undeterred, she finished her Master’s Degree in Social Work at CSU Stanislaus, in 1999.

Over the years she has been a Social Worker with Hospice of San Joaquin and a Program Coordinator for Parents as Teachers Program at El Concilio. She was a Supervisor III, with Families First, directing the coordination and evaluation of assigned social workers. Nellie has also been a Social Worker with the Tracy family and Cultural Diversity Projects. As a Mental Health Resource Specialist II worker in Modesto, she helped develop and implement mental health plans for the Kinship Program, and was a Social Work Intern for St. Joseph’s Behavioral Center.

She has been a volunteer tutor and Teacher’s Aide for the TLC School at St. Mary’s Dining Hall. She also volunteered to tutor male and female inmates in ESL at the Honor Farm in French camp. As a parent of school age children, Nellie was involved in the school’s Parent Teacher Club where she served as parliamentarian and president for four years.

In 1979, she was awarded Woman of the Year by the Lathrop City Council, was a member of San Joaquin Arts Council from 1980-88, and was a member, founder and president of the Lathrop Community Club from 1981-1990. She served on the Manteca Unified School District Board of Trustees from 1998-2002, and served as president from 2001-02. Nellie was a member of San Joaquin Local Child Care Planning Council from 2003-2005, and served three years as secretary of the Coalition of Mexican American Organizations (COMA) and the Mexican Heritage Center.